ALMA — Grant Shankle felt good early.
Shankle allowed one earned run in five innings and a two-out throwing error helped the Airedales secure a 3-2 win over the Ozark Hillbillies on Tuesday in the summer opener for both teams.
"It felt great, I hadn't been out there in a while," Shankle said. "We ended the season on a bad note, so hopefully we can come back out here and show that we can play."
Shankle limited Ozark to just one hit in five solid innings of work.
"That's one thing he did toward the end of the high school season; he started throwing consistently and throwing better for us," Alma coach Kevin Edwards said. "He's out playing long-toss every day, and his velocity has picked up, which helps his other pitches, too.
"Coming out for the first time of the season, I thought he did well."
The junior left-hander struck out five and walked just two. Eddie Graham's lead-off single and Greg Patton's walk led to Ozark's two runs in the fourth.
A two-base throwing error allowed Graham to speed to third, and then a wild pitch gave Ozark a 1-0 lead.
Patton scored on Andrew Hopper's RBI grounder for the second run.
Shankle rebounded with a strong fifth.
"The first three innings I was throwing pretty hard," Shankle said. "My velocity kind of let up eventually throughout, and that's what I've got to focus on — getting my arm stronger."
The Airedales rallied behind Payton Canfield's one-out single and Garon Taylor's walk in the fifth. A wild pitch scored Canfield with the first run, and a two-out throwing error allowed Taylor and Shankle to score the go-ahead runs.
Taylor pitched around a two-out single and a walk in the sixth for the save.
Graham was solid for the Hillbillies, pitching four scoreless innings. The right-hander struck out 10 and allowed just three hits — a pair of two-out hits to Canfield and Taylor in the second and a one-out single to Drew Montgomery in the fourth.